Dome Sweet Dome

By Margaret Lyons in News on May 12, 2008 5:32PM

Wow, underground buildings are the new above-ground buildings, apparently. First the Children's Museum revealed its dugout plans, and now the University of Chicago has yet more plans to keep its students sun-shunning mole trolls. We kid, we kid.

Architect Helmut Jahn designed the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library to be mostly underground with a crystal dome on top. The building will hold 3.5 million "volumes of print material" which will be stored "in a high-density, automated shelving system." Robo-library!

Architecture critic Blair Kamin worries that the look of the building clashes with the rest of U of C's campus.

The real trouble is the way the library departs from the university’s characteristic planning, which consists of walled-in courtyards: places of extraordinary dignity and repose. Regenstein broke that pattern in 1970 with its concrete Brutalism. Now the library’s Jetson futurism appears poised to repeat the same mistake.

Calmate, Blair. If you can't get psyched about a robotic book-fetching system housed in a glorious glass bubble, what can you get behind? We dig it. [U of C's press release, Trib]